Domestic cat (Felis catus) as a bioindicator of environmental lead contamination / Kot domowy (Felis catus) jako bioindykator zanieczyszczenia środowiska ołowiem

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The investigations aimed at determining the lead content in domestic cat hair as an indicator of environmental lead contamination. The investigation material comprised hair samples collected from 20 cats from the region of Warsaw. The first group of 10 cats (five males and five females) were kept at home as the accompanying animals. Another group (five males and five females) were the so-called feral urban cats whose nutritional base comprised human food wastes. Hair samples were collected from the middle abdominal region prior to routine surgical treatments. The lead content was determined with the help of the inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry method.

A significant effect of the conditions of animal life on the lead content in their hair was observed. The mean content of metal in hair of all the investigated cats amounted to 1.95 mg • kg−1. The highest lead concentration in free living animals was 2.89 mg • kg−1 (females: 3.58; males: 2.20 mg • kg−1). In cats kept as accompanying animals, the mean lead value was nearly three times lower (1 mg • kg−1) (females: 0.98; males: 1.02 mg • kg−1).

In the coat of animals living as urban feral cats, a significantly higher mean lead concentration was observed than in cats kept at home. The values are similar to those obtained in the analysis of the lead content in carnivorous animals originating from the non-urbanised areas.

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